Jules Feiffer’s first
satirical novel follows the humorous, existential rise and fall of a narcissistic
lothario, Harry, from influential high-society hanger-on to suicidal cipher.
Harry is “blessed” by his family’s endless bounty of love and hope, raised to
believe he is the embodiment of perfection — beautiful, infallible,
irresistible. So great are their expectations that he will provide for them in
the future that he is given everything he could ever need.
Feiffer’s brilliant modern
fable comments less on the anomie of narcissism and more on the insecure desire
of the world to find a charismatic messiah. Persuaded to become the attractive
face on an idealistic political movement, Harry, finally, realizes the immense
power and effect he can have on others. The novel reaches it crescendo when
Harry attempts to leave his oblivious, self-obsessed ways behind: he begins to
lose himself his entire personality shatters; his looks begin to fail; women
Originally published in
1963, Harry, the Rat With Women is a
typically scathing satirical tour de force in the tradition of Little Murders and
The White House Murder Case, a wry, hilarious commentary on the American
public’s seemingly endless love affair with chiselers and rats— more relevant
now than ever.
180 pages, published April 2007